Northern Ireland

HIA Inquiry: MP calls for law to compensate abuse victims

man with head in hands Image copyright bodnarchuk
Image caption Payments to victims were recommended by the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry in 2017

The chairman of a Westminster committee has written to the Northern Ireland Secretary urging the implementation of a law for compensation to victims of historical institutional abuse.

Payments to victims were recommended by the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry in 2017.

But power-sharing at Stormont collapsed days later, and the issue was stalled.

Andrew Murrison said legislation to deal with it must be "brought through Westminster as soon as possible".

The Conservative MP said Karen Bradley needed to "grip this now" for victims to get what they need without "further painful delay".

He added: "The inability to implement the recommendations of the Hart report, despite the gravity of the issues it deals with, is a reminder to us all that restoration of the Northern Ireland Executive is essential to ensure justice, progress and protection for the people of Northern Ireland."

He also asked Mrs Bradley to seek a meeting with Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland.

Image caption Andrew Murrison said legislation to deal with it must be 'brought through Westminster as soon as possible'

The inquiry was set up by Stormont leaders to investigate allegations of abuse in children's residential homes run by religious, charitable and state organisations.

Its remit covered a 73-year period, from the foundation of Northern Ireland in 1922 through to 1995.

'Moral responsibility'

In November 2018, three pieces of proposed legislation aimed at dealing with outstanding issues around historical institutional abuse were published by the Executive Office.

At the time, David Sterling told BBC News that Mrs Bradley had a "moral responsibility" to take action on the issue from Westminster if Stormont had not been restored by the end of the consultation process.

Earlier this year, the civil service said the public consultation for those impacted by historical institutional abuse was being extended until 10 March.

Official estimates are that the average compensation paid to survivors could end up being around £18,500 each - an estimate based on a similar scheme in the Republic.

Stalemate

Once the consultation process has concluded, proposed legislation requires ministerial sign off.

Northern Ireland has been without ministers since the power-sharing institutions collapsed in January 2017, after the DUP and Sinn Féin split in a bitter row over the handling of a flawed green energy scheme.

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